Our fight with the enemy on the 25th continued until dark. it was not until night closed in that I knew that the troops in Chattanooga had swept across Missionary Ridge and broken the enemy’s centre. Of course, the victory was won, and pursuit was the next step.
I ordered General Morgan L. Smith to feel to the tunnel, and he found it vacant, save by the dead and wounded of our own and the enemy commingled. The reserve of General Jeff. C. Davis was ordered to march at once by the pontoon-bridge across Chickamauga Creek, at its mouth, and push forward for the depot.
I ordered General Howard (who had reported to me in the early part of the day, with the remainder of his army corps (the Eleventh), and had been posted to connect my left with Chickamauga Creek) to repair an old broken bridge about two miles up the Chickamauga, and to follow General Davis at 4 a.m. The Fifteenth Army Corps was ordered to follow at daylight. But General Howard found that to repair the bridge was more of a task than was at first supposed, and we were all compelled to cross the Chickamauga on the new pontoon-bridge at its mouth. By about 11 a.m. General Jeff. C. Davis’s division reached the depot, just in time to see it in flames. He found the enemy occupying two hills, partially intrenched, just beyond the depot. These he soon drove away. The depot presented a scene of desolation that war alone exhibits—corn-meal and corn in huge burning piles, broken wagons, abandoned caissons, two thirty-two-pounder rifled-guns with carriages burned, pieces of pontoons, balks and chesses, etc., destined doubtless for the famous invasion of Kentucky, and all manner of things, burning and broken. Still, the enemy kindly left us a good supply of forage for our horses, and meal, beans, etc., for our men.
Pausing but a short while, we passed on, the road filled with broken wagons and abandoned caissons, till night. Just as the head of the column emerged from a dark, miry swamp, we encountered the rear-guard of the retreating enemy. The fight was sharp, but the night closed in so dark that we could not move. General Grant came up to us there.